Despite dark days, good stories do emerge. Balanced Food Company

For many food service companies, it has been a deeply devastating period of time; especially for those operating B&I operations in major city centres which have seen a 70-80% fall in custom and revenue. 2021 seems to be another year of challenges.

However, out of even the darkest times, inevitably comes new young companies to challenge the traditional methodologies and thinking. One such company is Balanced Food Company, founded by Mark McCann and Ian Summers, who together have created a hybrid model to go along with the more traditional approaches. As they enter 2021, they possess a strong pipeline which should see them grow successfully but moreover, they are now entering markets which traditionally have been very difficult.

They are presently in advanced discussions with 3 hotel groups about both full service management contracts and also in relation to a delivered in model, from their CPU based close to Oxford. They are also in discussions with traditional contracts, with new sites and operations from Oxford down to London and even further afield.

For a relatively young company, they possess their own supply chain, a CPU which can successfully support operations through a delivered in approach and the experience to run full service operations. Altogether, this gives them the confidence that they can adapt as needs be and offer clients a very good service level.

The result, of course, is they are growing in confidence, in competitiveness and have a psychology that they can grow in the most difficult of times. The cynic will naturally counter that, at the moment, there is great promise and that this promise still needs to be actualised. True but many would like to feel that they have such a strong arsenal and have their own supply chain which allows greater flexibility in how they can serve clients and create good commercial offers.

The real success is that Balanced Food are developing avenues for entry into a number of markets, able to break new ground and offer clients new, flexible and exciting options to consider.

“We are in a good place,” noted Ian Summers, “but it has come from a lot of hard work in rethinking how we should approach the market. The market has inevitably changed and with it, the way that clients look at food service. We needed to have models that could be adjusted to support clients in different ways. The reason the hotel groups have entered a strong dialogue with us is because they have loved our food offer and the fact we can deliver in which means they can change the teams they need onsite.

Other hotels want an expert partner as they know they can not be an expert in every discipline. It is hard enough in a good market but in a tough environment such as this one, it is logical that many will want to partner with F&B specialists and embrace a more flexible or delivered in approach.”
“Our key differential is our food,” added Mark. “We have placed a focus on product first and really worked hard to make sure that we are not selling anything that we cannot deliver. When contracts do change, it is often because the food has not been good enough or consistently good enough. We all know great food companies and have seen them compromise as they grow but in the end, success comes from food.

We believe that if we get our food offer right, then we will do well. As we planned the business, we agreed that we did not want any major hierarchies, we wanted the business to be led by its craft. Clients are liking this message as it cuts away much of the “management speak” which does take place and positions food as the centre piece of the relationship, where it should be.

Everyone talks often about business models and we too have worked hard on this but with models built off the product. We have spent hundreds of hours in our CPU working through products which innovate and will please customers. “

“Mark is right,” agreed Ian. “Success will come from having an exceptional product that does “wow” clients and then commercials which also hit the mark. The fact we directly control so much of our supply chain is a major difference to others. If we can achieve what we believe we can this year, then we will be very well placed for the future. On saying that, we are very aware just how hard these times are so we can not take anything for granted but we feel we are building something that has real value.”